Today I was in a book store without a goal. I was just walking the aisles, nowhere to be for two hours, picking up things that caught my eye and reading the first few pages, when it occurred to me that I’m at the beginning of a life.
There’s something about where I’ve been for the last little bit that makes me feel like I should have more answers. Feel more concrete. Know more things. But — and this is part of the cosmic healing of book stores and being surrounded by so much fucking history and culture that you feel like there isn’t possibly enough time in the world for your brain to know everything you want it to know — but there was a minute there while I was sitting in a cherry chair considering whether or not I’d give Dave Eggers’ short stories a try when I realized that I’m incredibly proud of the human I am.
And it was like the weather shifted, an hourglass had flipped and my momentum was completely different. There was an old man to my left reading a cook book, and a mother who’d just walked in with her toddler, and the toddler was walking and carrying her own jacket which was such a human gesture. Just carrying her tiny pea coat in her tiny hands, pre-verbal but knowing that the coat fell in her jurisdiction. Aware of power and responsibility, and mobile! Moving, this human!
And, I don’t even know if there are words for it, but I was just immensely appreciative and proud of the person I choose to be every day and the place that I’ve carved out for myself in this life. The places I plan to go are beautiful and honorable and… whatever… important to have in mind. But fuck goddamn, Christine. You’re alive right now and right now and right now and you’re doing it well right now. You’re a good human right now. The big pieces are in place. The rest is just fucking with minutiae.
Fuck goddamn, Christine. You’re a good human right now. The bookstores approve.
I admire those who can do it whole hog, cold turkey, whichever meat metaphor you prefer. But to be honest, I don’t think I could cut out social media completely. I’d be lonely. Twitter has become a rather important feature of my involvement in and awareness of the book world. And Tumblr, I rather like you so far. But I am going to do my darndest to cut out most of the fats and sugars from my social media diet.
When people talk about the internet and the consequent loss of serendipity, usually, they’re referring to product or content. There’s only so much an algorithm can do in terms of recommending books or music. And only so much an aggregator can do to bring together content you’d be interested in. And you rarely get that feeling of stumbling on something amazing that you never expected to find.
But there is another element of serendipity that is significantly diminished because of social media: that of small talk and daily personal stories. Think about it. Your cat spills beer on your lap, and it’s so funny, so you post a status update about it on Facebook. Then, the next day you see a friend and want to share the anecdote. You begin and they say “Yeah, I saw it on your Facebook.” Deflating end of conversation. You don’t get the joy of sharing the story and hearing their reaction to it or hearing their similar experience. They already reacted to it, last night, alone, staring at a screen. And the fabric of your daily life, of your connection with other people in real life, isn’t as strong as it might have been.
I don’t mind Facebook and Twitter for what they are. For many reasons, I think they’re great. But I wish I could actually limit who sees what where. Like share this tidbit with people to whom there is very little chance of me relating the story in real life. And share this tidbit with people who might join me for a beer tomorrow. Share this with book people. Share this with high school friends. But alas, it doesn’t work that way.
So, rather, I’m going to cut back, way back, for a month. Perhaps it will allow me to be more productive. Perhaps it will allow me some clarity for which service to use for what. Maybe it will make me realize that I don’t need to be overwhelmed by drivel, my own and others. We’ll see.
“But if you’d rather not have a bookstore in your community, shop mostly or only at Amazon. No one should shop at Green Apple out of charity or pity or noblesse oblige, but because you want what we’ve got. You mold the retail landscape with every purchase; vote wisely.”
Click through for the full, excellent post from San Francisco’s Green Apple Books.
Maybe I don't want gay marriage... I just don't know.
Just finished reading Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage, and while there are definitely parts that I don’t agree with (and parts that felt too bloggy, no offense Me and Everyone Else), there are some pieces in here that just make a whole lot of sense. The best essay in the book is a fascinating and well-reasoned piece by John D’Emilio, and it appeared originally in The Gay and Lesbian Review in 2006 (before Prop 8 and the whole Iowa thing). It’s really just worth reading the whole thing.
He argues that fighting FOR gay marriage is actually going against the current of history, which, from the 1960s until now has been characterized by family life (and especially heterosexual family life) becoming more and more varied. The article is worth reading just for his astute analysis of those social currents of the late 20th century. He suggests that the struggle for gay marriage, in addition to being incredibly expensive, has had the unhappy result of creating more new anti-gay law than any other issue or campaign in the history of “organized queerdom.” In his eyes, a gay movement that took advantage of historical trends, rather than going against them, would push to further de-center and de-institutionalize marriage.
This is something I grapple with, guys. For quite a while, my stance was that marriage wasn’t for Me (or for Us during the 5-year relationship I was in until recently). But any queer who wanted it should be able to have it. And for sure those who have been committed to each other for 30 years certainly deserve it. I still look at the Iowa Supreme Court decision with pride and verklempitude. And these guys made me tear up every Boston Pride I went to:
But now, I must confess, I’m uncertain. I don’t know if marriage should be the focal point of the gay movement. I don’t know what else it should be, but I think it’s really important that we think about it, and that we don’t simply take it as a given that gay marriage is good for everyone.
Then I headed back to good ol’ Los Feliz on the train, listening to DJ Kicks: Apparat. Man, that sun was nice today. I fiddled around with a new song on GarageBand, which is really just killing time but it feels good to be musically creative again after so long.
Then, I went home, had a good harness-and-leash training session with my cat, and found out that my Corpus Libris blog was on BOING BOING, had nearly 4000 hits when I checked (it’s double that an hour later), and its traffic is currently up about 7000%!
And now the day is over, and I am pretty damn content.
Evidence abounds that Amazon fully knows that their profit strategy is contingent on tax evasion. I tell you, that playing field just keeps getting steeper and steeper. If you value humans and communities at all, I beg you to find ways to support independent business, even when you shop online. We pay for their cheap prices in other ways, I assure you.
"At what point do you finally admit that you like to read, and you like to write, and you secretly resent everything that takes time away from those pursuits except for eating, and you’re even a little peevish about eating unless cheese is involved in some way?"
Or is it a honest question? I can never remember. But that is not the question.
The question is this. At what point in your twenties do you look at the fabric you’ve scavenged and the yarn you’ve collected since college, the knitting books from thoughtful family members, the sewing machine, the…